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Title

Totem I (black - the get laid totem)


Artist

Brett Whiteley

Australia, England

07 Apr 1939 - 15 Jun 1992


About

"Sculpture is totemic, phallic, something that grows upwards from the earth or from the gallery floor." Brett Whiteley

As a young boy, Whiteley was fascinated with bird's eggs and nests, often collecting them and persuading others to collect for him as well. The egg - a recurring element in his work - is traditionally a symbol of fertility. Brancusi considered it the perfect form. Whiteley has evoked a sense of celebration by exaggerating size and scale to create this fantasy totem. He was also fascinated by the traditional burial poles of northern Australian aborigines which he saw at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. In them he saw a sense of growing upwards from the ground.

A different vision, Brett Whiteley Studio exhibition catalogue, 1998


Details


Other Titles

Totem 1

The get laid totem

Black Totem Egg


Date

1978-1988


Media category

Sculpture


Materials used

fibreglass and wood


Dimensions

284.5 x 170.2 x 61.0 cm


Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Credit

Purchased by the New South Wales State Government 1994, transferred to the Gallery 1998


Accession number

349.1998.a-c


Artist information

Brett Whiteley

Works in the collection

84


Shown in 10 exhibitions

Exhibition history


Referenced in 5 publications

Bibliography


Robert Gray, Art and Australia (Vol. 24, No. 2), 'A few takes on Brett Whiteley', pg. 216-224, Sydney, Summer 1986, 223 (illus.).

Janet Hawley, Good Weekend Magazine, 'Still life', pg. 18-24, Sydney, 02 Jul 1994, 21 (colour illus., detail), 22. titled 'Black Totem Egg'

Barbara Konkolowicz., A different vision, 'A different vision', Sydney, 1998, (illus.). titled 'The get laid totem'

Humphrey McQueen, Art and Australia (Vol. 17, No. 1), 'Brett Whiteley', pg. 45-52, Sydney, Sep 1979, 50 (illus.).

Barry Pearce, Brett Whiteley Art & Life, 'Birds & landscapes', pg. 196-223, 235, London, 1995, 205 (colour illus.). plate no. 143(b)